I was born and raised in Iowa, living most of my life in a small town called Lost Nation, Iowa. I found my life needing a change of scenery in my late 30’s so I decided to move to South Carolina so I could be closer to her sister, Tracy. In 2010, I met Jay and I guess you could say the rest is history. We both knew fell in love and were married in 2012, with Tracy overseeing the nuptials – how unique is that!
I’ve always known Jay to either have his nose stuck in a book, usually nothing that I would ever dream of reading, or typing away on his laptop writing his stories. It wasn’t uncommon to hear his fingers clicking on his keyboard, listening to him talking to himself or laughing at what he was writing and then calling out from his library, “Oh, you’re going to love this one, Dovely!” The best part was when Jay would come walking into the room with his laptop in hand and tell me that he finished his story, would I like to hear it. Of course, I would say “Yes!” because there’s nothing better than hearing an author read his own work.
Jay would put so much emotion into his recitation that I couldn’t help but be enthralled – he was truly a great storyteller, both written and verbally. Jay would write up all of these stories and save them….in multiple formats: to his computer, on a two different flash drive and sometimes even print the story. He was fearful that something would happen and he’d lose his work. Craig can attest to that after losing an entire chapter of his story when his computer crashed and then having to rewrite it!
I always asked Jay on many occasions why he never published his work because they are amazing stories – very eclectic that would attract interest of many different readers. He would tell me no one wants to read his stuff and maybe he’d be published “some day” but not in his lifetime. Well, I was having none of that! I told him I was going to help him publish his first book and he needed to start coming up with what he wanted to include. So that started it all. He was very excited, writing a table of content – some of the stories he hadn’t even written yet but he had the ideas floating around in his head. Jay would work on several stories at the same time because ideas would come randomly to him. Again, as he finished each story he’d read it to me and I would listen – some I admittedly didn’t like but the writing was great and Jay said he understood not everyone will like every story he writes. Then, the day came when he had completed first batch of short stories – he had more but he told me that’s for another book. Jay had asked his dad to draw pictures for some of the stories as well so those were complete too. I took his stories and drafted them into one file and went searching for the best place to self-publish because Jay was adamant he didn’t want a publisher to change any of his writing. So we finally opted for Amazon’s self-publishing program and the look of pure joy on Jay’s face when he got the proof! A beautiful blue cover which his dad drew. He went through the proof, read and re-read each story to ensure everything looked okay. I proofread each story and Tracy helped out tremendously.
On December 1, 2014, his first book was published, “An Ocean of Stories: Tales & Sketches.” Remarkably, Jay pointed out that the day his book was published was on my birthday. I told him that was perfect and meant to be!
After “An Ocean of Stories” was published, Jay was ready to start on his next two books, “Astrolabe” and “A Forest of Stories!” He still had several short stories that weren’t included in his first book so he already knew some stories would be going into “Forest” along with short stories from his brother, Craig. It’d be a collaborative effort for sure. Jay had been working on “Astrolabe” for many years and was excited to see that one in print – it was his baby. He finally finished Astrolabe but sadly, that was when his health was failing badly and he feared he wouldn’t ever see it published. Tracy was determined to have Jay see his book in print so she diligently sat by his bedside going over edits in detail.
“Astrolabe” was published in February 2018, two weeks before Jay lost his long battle with cancer. It makes me so happy that he was able to hold the one novel that he so affectionately treasured and wanted to see published so badly! I give all of my love and admiration to Tracy for making that dream come true for Jay.
Jay knew that he would never see “A Forest of Stories” published so he provided Craig with the short stories he would like to be included. Craig finished everything and handed over the stories for Tracy and I to review and do our magic. We both agreed all of the stories were just as good as “An Ocean of Stories” and excited to see the second book of three be printed for others to enjoy. We can’t wait for “A Sky of Stories” to be done to finish the set!
I look forward to reading and providing feedback to other writings Craig has in the works. Admittedly, I enjoy reading much more than the editing part but it’s so nice to get a sneak peek at the book before anyone else!
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